Runaway: A Road Adventure


Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:     Trisynergy

Released:   2003

PC Requirements:   Windows 95/98/2000/ME/XP, Pentium 200 MHz or Higher, DirectX Compatible Video Card, 630 MB HD, CD-Rom 8x or Faster, 64 MB RAM

Walkthrough   Walkthrough




by Becky

How about an adventure that traverses the United States, beginning in New York City and ending in California? The journey starts with a nerdy young hero who wears glasses “as a precaution more than a necessity” and carries a suitcase full of physics texts. Right away there’s an unexpected dust up with a female nightclub entertainer, then a race to escape Mafioso goons who’ll kill to get an enigmatic artifact. Down the road are varied obstacles and dealings with a mixed bag of self-absorbed eccentrics. Will Brian Basco somehow manage to keep himself and his beautiful companion from being caught and tortured? Will he live long enough to feast his eyes on the Golden Gate Bridge and UC Berkeley?

Runaway opens with one of the most beautiful sequences I have seen in a game. The theme song (which I still can’t get out of my head) plays in the background while the camera pans over the New Jersey suburbs and zooms toward the dark purple skyline, framed by thousands of rectangles of light.

The graphics in Runaway are cartoon-like, colorful but soft-hued. Although the game features locations from sea to shining sea, much of the action takes place against the stylized vistas and sculpted rock formations of the American southwest. Skies are sprinkled with puffy clouds that recall the Monkey Island games.

The game is third person perspective with mouse control. Use of the inventory is easy – there is even a nice bit of business where Brian appears on the inventory screen, then disappears as he rummages through different containers. Character movement is smooth. It’s easy to steer Brian around, and large directional arrows make it convenient to exit locations. Shadows during character movement show the designers’ unusual attention to finer details in the game.

Runaway contains some tough pixel hunts. Key hotspots are often small, and certain items blend in perfectly with their surroundings. Occasionally an item can be used on a hotspot only after you hit a trigger in the game – if something obvious doesn’t work, you should come back later in the game and try again. There will also be moments when you will have that “Well why CAN’T I use X with Y?” experience (i.e., why CAN’T I use the scalpel on the corpse to get the maggots?). Still, the game does a pretty good job of guiding you on your mission in each area, and once you hit on the right combinations of items/hotspots, you can easily see why they work.

Interiors are packed with detail. There is stuff everywhere. Is this is commentary on the American urge to acquire enough possessions for five lifetimes? Even if it isn’t, it’s inspired because there is so much to look at and so many places to hide those hotspots. There’s tool stuff in a deserted hut, cowboy stuff in an abandoned jail, explosive stuff in a derelict train car. And those are the unoccupied places. There’s a museum crammed with ancient stuff. A bus jammed with pop-icon stuff. My favorite – Mama Dorita’s place, where you’ll find the ultimate in ethno-religio-historio-stuffusion.

Did I mention that Runaway is funny? Yes, despite the goons dogging our hero’s footsteps and the occasional scenes of ruthless cartoon violence, there are parts of Runaway that made me laugh out loud. Most of the hilarity occurs as you interact with the characters – a cadre of over-the-top American stereotypes, some of whom manage to transcend the game’s satiric bent. There’s always more there than first meets the eye, whether it’s certain blonde mayor or even a hulking bouncer. And as for Willy the night janitor – haven’t I met him in real life? This is a game in which appearances are deceptive. Nothing is exactly as it seems. By the end everyone in the game has “evolved” (or devolved).

Another interesting aspect of Runaway is that on one level the game lives at the movies. There are movie references everywhere. Characters quote the movies, analyze the strengths of film directors and make life decisions based on cinematic advice. There’s even one puzzle that’s so reminiscent of a certain movie that THIS gamer fell into a wide-open red-herring-trap, making the puzzle much harder than it had to be.


The game’s strengths take time to develop. There were a few places early on where I thought the writing stiff and the characterizations pointlessly exaggerated. The game seemed at first to be trying too hard. But by the time I reached the Close Encounters chapter, the game had me in the palm of its hand.

The main female protagonist is side-lined for much of the game. Although there are additional fun characters to meet, spending time with Gina would have made the plot more satisfying.

Now for the ending: Runaway’s final moments are better than those of most adventure games. The fulfillment of the quest is shown in a series of cinematic cutscenes. I did feel let-down by one aspect of the ending, though for the same reason I was disappointed by the ending of Ivanhoe. Just because you’re a hero doesn’t mean you always make the right choices.

Nevertheless, remember the name: Basco. Brian Basco.


Third person perspective, mouse control. Colorful, cartoon-like graphics with lots of detail. Puzzle difficulty: average. No sliders, no mazes, no timed puzzles, one sound puzzle. Inventory puzzles and pixel hunts. Plenty of dialogue. Entertaining plot, decent voice acting. Funny manual. Although other characters in the game can die, the main character does not. Unlimited saves. The game was stable – the only glitch was a repeating cutscene. Game length: just shy of average. Aimed at gamers who enjoy third-person quests with absurd situations and odd-ball characters.

Final Grade:

design copyright © 2003 GameBoomers Group

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